Friday 26 May 2017

Keeping it kind and keeping it country, too

'For our assumption of superiority over other sentient beings - which basically means any creature who can feel pain or pleasure - that justifies our exploitation of animals, is painfully obvious outside the ironically cloistered environs of cities.' Stock photo: Getty
'For our assumption of superiority over other sentient beings - which basically means any creature who can feel pain or pleasure - that justifies our exploitation of animals, is painfully obvious outside the ironically cloistered environs of cities.' Stock photo: Getty

Fiona O'Connell

Visiting Dublin only confirms my decision to move to the country - and not just because it means I'm close to nature. For life here is on a more human scale.

It's the same for my old school friend, Susan, who I met up with recently. She commutes for over an hour to her work in the Mater Hospital. Susan had always loved animals and she told me that she had indeed started training as a veterinarian nurse.

"But I only lasted one day," she admitted.

First, there was a visit to the slaughterhouse. Followed by a man with a greyhound that wasn't fast enough for racing, so he wanted him put down. Next came a woman with nine mewing kittens. Susan is still haunted by the sickening lessening in sound as she made her way through that cardboard box, snuffing out nine little souls who got less than 48 hours of life, let alone the proverbial nine. The next morning, Susan switched to human nursing.

That pathetic back story to Susan's change of career also explains why country life can be a double-edged sword if you believe, as I do, that all sentient beings - both humans and non-humans - share a basic right not to be treated as the property of others. Which makes me a modern-day abolitionist, a word that is appropriately related to the social movement that ended human slavery.

For our assumption of superiority over other sentient beings - which basically means any creature who can feel pain or pleasure - that justifies our exploitation of animals, is painfully obvious outside the ironically cloistered environs of cities. Fields of increasingly adolescent-looking cows regularly disappear to be replaced by more of the same in the intensive system that constitutes modern farming. While heavily pregnant bovines seem to be forever trudging across the walkway above one particular stretch of motorway I pass. In many ways, they endure more suffering than other livestock, being perpetually impregnated till they are prematurely worn out. All so that we can continue the dubious distinction of being the only species on this earth that drinks the milk intended for the young of another species.

Above all is the relentless rattling of slaughter trucks along the street, leaving behind the benign, sad smell of cows and sheep. And, of course, discarded horses. All while SUVs with trailers attached and horse carriers head for the nearby racetrack or a day's hunting.

Meanwhile, the abattoir in town corrals animals to their doom as people walk by, either oblivious or else thinking that this is the proper order of things.

Making it all the more ridiculous to me that the 'Repeal the Eighth' campaign rages on, with some locals proclaiming themselves 'pro-life' and others 'pro-choice' - even as they deny other sentient beings the basic privilege of either. But the steadily increasing numbers of both city and country folk who share my perception adds a heartening new meaning to life on a human scale.

Sunday Independent

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in Life